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A HALF-BLOCK BUILDER'S MODEL OF THE JAPANESE TORPEDO BOAT KOTAKA, BUILT BY MESSRS R & H GREEN, BLACKWALL, 1886
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A HALF-BLOCK BUILDER'S MODEL OF THE JAPANESE TORPEDO BOAT KOTAKA, BUILT BY MESSRS R & H GREEN, BLACKWALL, 1886

Details
A HALF-BLOCK BUILDER'S MODEL OF THE JAPANESE TORPEDO BOAT KOTAKA, BUILT BY MESSRS R & H GREEN, BLACKWALL, 1886
with tapering funnel with access hatch, anchor slipway, coal shute covers and other deck fittings, the hull with ram bow, forward steering fin, stabilisers, propeller shaft and rudder is secured to original display board with legend and details reading: STEEL PLATED TORPEDO BOAT FOR THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT BUILT BY MESSRS R & H GREEN BLACKWALL (1886) together with the principal dimensions -- 94½in. (240cm.) wide
See illustration
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This lot is subject to Collection and Storage Charges.
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Lot Essay

As the hitherto feudal state of Japan gradually absorbed western influences in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was inevitable that -- as an island nation -- she would want to develop a modern navy in keeping with her international ambitions. Her first armoured ship was purchased second-hand from the United States but thereafter, Japan looked to Great Britain to supply her needs, choosing from a number of yards depending upon what type of vessel was required. As iron warships grew ever larger, the traditional Thames-side yards became less able to accommodate them with the result that several London shipbuilders, notably Yarrow and Thornycroft, soon began to specialise in small, high speed torpedo-boats once that marque was developed in the early 1880s.

Also searching for a new role after the virtual demise of the big wooden merchantmen was R. & H. Green at Blackwall and, somewhat surprisingly, the Japanese government placed an order with them for a first class torpedo-boat, to be called Kotaka, in 1885. At that time, most torpedo-boats were very lightly built of 1/8in. thick plates and usually measured approximately 100 feet by 10 feet, but the new Japanese model was to be significantly bigger in every respect. Designed by Green's own naval architect to Japanese specifications, their vessel was to be of 203 tons displacement and was to measure 165 feet in length overall with a 19 foot beam. This made her the largest torpedo-boat of her day and she was the subject of much British naval comment whilst she was being built. Laid down as yard number 505, one of her most notable features was the 1in. steel armour which protected her machinery and she was also sub-divided into water-tight compartments, another innovation. In fact, she became the prototype for the torpedo-boat destroyers of the following decade and proved a great success in service. Powered by a 1,217ihp. reciprocating engine fired from two locomotive boilers, her twin shafts could drive her through the water at an astounding 19 knots and she had bunkers for 50 tons of best steam coal. Armament consisted of 4-1pdr. quick-firing guns and she also carried six 14in. torpedo tubes, two fixed to fire ahead, two amidships and two aft. Completed in October 1888, she was then dismantled and shipped to Japan in sections where she was quickly reassembled prior to being commissioned.

As the fastest craft in the Japanese fleet, Kotaka enjoyed a prestige far in excess of her actual usefulness although her speed meant that she was the obvious choice to lead the Japanese flotillas in their attacks on Port Arthur during the first Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. This conflict was a triumph for Japan's modern fleet and encouraged the territorial expansion which would eventually result in the far more momentous Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 that established Japan as a significant world power. Less involved in this latter war as she was, by then, practically obsolete, Kotaka was nevertheless only relegated to subsidiary duties in 1906 and appears to have remained in service at least until 1920.
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